Two faces of Peter Angelos Owner under fire: The Orioles' enigmatic, micro-managing lead investor stirs another controversy, hurting his legacy.

November 07, 1997

PETER G. ANGELOS is a walking, talking, flesh-and-blood contradiction. He bought and saved the Orioles for Baltimore four years ago, but is held in contempt now by many of the same fans who revered him then. They rightfully blame him for the premature departures of team manager Davey Johnson this week and popular radio broadcaster Jon Miller a year ago.

He reacts as a fan, pounding his fist in his sumptuous skybox after a relief pitcher serves up a homer. Yet he's oblivious to the negative fan reaction his micro-meddling engenders.

He is a fabulously rich self-made man who is treated royally at Camden Yards and in Little Italy. Still, he seems to hunger for greater acceptance and respect.

He can come off so gallantly -- trying to save shipyard jobs, a downtown office or a historic church. Or he can come off mean: He ignored Mr. Johnson's outstanding record -- two straight post-season teams -- because he was offended by a single remark the manager made among thousands of media questions during the season. The owner also obsessed over the manager's mishandling of a player's fine when, on balance, Mr. Johnson did a masterful job juggling the team's giant egos.

Who is Peter G. Angelos? Actually, he was born George Peter Angelos: His mother reversed his name, in dedication to St. Peter, when he recovered from a life-threatening appendicitis attack in childhood.

He seems the quintessential Baltimorean, yet he was born in Pittsburgh, spent his formative years in little mill towns near there and only moved to Maryland as an adolescent.

He carries the scars of neighborhood bullies. "Take a look at this nose," he once joked. Yet he, too, can be a boorish bully, forcing employees and business foes to grovel and twist.

He was a visionary in his lone City Council term in the 1960s. He wanted then to require work of able-bodied welfare recipients. A cham-pion for civil rights, he sponsored the bill that banned city segregated facilities.

Yet he can seem maddeningly devoid of vision such as when his ego gets in the way of efforts to spark economic development between the stadiums at Camden Yards.

He gives $1 million to help the Babe Ruth Museum move to vacant Camden Station, then hampers a state deal to enliven the place with a restaurant.

He has been described as Baltimore's George Steinbrenner, the Yankees' owner lampooned for his meddling ways and revolving door for managers. But he has the potential to be Baltimore's Ted Turner, the Braves' owner seen as a civic giant in Atlanta who pledged $1 billion to charity.

Peter Angelos is a man whose Horatio Alger story deserves to be the foundation of a legacy as rich and warm and grand as Baltimore.

He is a man being dragged to earth by his own cold, petty distractions.

Pub Date: 11/07/97

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